CAN CAPITALISM BE PICTURED?



Tuesday, 14 February 2012

17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre


Frans Masereel Frans Masereel, from the novel 'Die Stadt', 1925. © Courtesy Dover Publications.

Speaker(s): G. M. Tamás (Senior Research Fellow,The Institute of Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Klara Kemp-Welch


In contradistinction to tribal and aristocratic societies, capitalism is not chiefly the rule of persons over persons. Even its self-understanding as ‘the rule of law’ points towards its abstract character. Labour is capital. Depicting history and power that is purely conceptual is a problem for both theory and art. So much so, that some came to doubt that either history or power is part of reality which is supposed to be visible. Personifying capitalism is arguably an error. Should art and theory be as elusive as capital itself in order to give it its true measure?

G. M. Tamás, a Hungarian philosopher and a prolific writer of essays, was born in Kolozsvár / Cluj (Transylvania, Romania). After a brief spell as an associate editor of a Hungarian-language literary weekly, he was blacklisted from publishing and harassed by the secret police of the Ceausescu régime. Forced to emigrate to Hungary in 1978, he taught for two years at the taught for two years at the University of Budapest (ELTE), then he was fired for having published (and signed openly) illegal tracts in samizdat.

He had subsequently become a leading figure in the East European dissident movements. From 1986 to the present day, he has held a number of visiting appointments (at Columbia, Oxford, Wilson Center, Chicago, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Georgetown, Yale, New School, among others). He was elected to Parliament in 1990 and elected Director of the Institute of Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1991. In 1994 and 1995, respectively, he has stepped down from both. His views on political philosophy and political theory shifted gradually to the left. He is said to belong – with Zizek, Badiou, Kurz, Negri and others – to the company of heretical European Marxists. Professor Tamás’s works had been translated into fourteen languages, e. g., L’Oeil et la main (1985), Les Idoles de la tribu (1989), ‘Telling the Truth about Class’ (Socialist Register 2006). He has four children and lives – mainly – in Budapest, Hungary.



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